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No way to treat a lady? Upstart spoofs Palin autobiography

October 22, 2009

sarah-palin-books_l Leave it to those wacky cut-ups at The Nation. A pair of editors at the oldest progressive magazine in America (“Unconventional Wisdom Since 1865”) have put together a collection of essays, Going Rouge, with a clever cover spoofing Sarah Palin’s much anticipated autobiography, Going Rogue.

Actually, The Nation tends toward serious reportage and commentary. It’s no one’s idea of a humor magazine — although the subscription pop-up on its web page is pretty funny: “We’re like Fox News. Only smart. And not crazy. And we don’t lie.”

Going Rogue, edited by Nation editors Richard Kim and Beverly Reed, may have it’s moments of nasty fun–after all, Palin, with her malaprops, tortured syntax and creative geography, makes herself a fat target for satire: Just ask Tina Fey. But I’d expect the essays by lefty superbrains like Naomi Klein, Jim Hightower, Joe Conason, Katha Pollitt, Thomas Frank and Nation editor-in-chief Katrina vanden Heuvel to be more serious than otherwise.

But credit where due, the cover parody is hilarious: Palin in different photos but wearing similar clothing colors and striking identical postures. The typeface is the same. Rogue’s subtitle, “An American Life,” becomes “An American Nightmare.”

And in one of the best touches, the blue skies of the Palin book have been rendered, on Rouge, to resemble the lightning-streaked clouds surrounding Mt. Doom in The Lord of the Rings.

Still, HarperCollins’ investment in Palin’s book – the former vice-presidential candidate received a reported $7 million advance — seems safe. Although Rouge comes out on Dec. 17, same as Rogue, no bookstore customer will get them confused.

Rouge, the first book from start-up publisher OR Books, will be available only as an e-book dowload ($10) or a print-on-demand paperback ($16), both from OR’s website.

OR Books, started six months ago, is the work of John Oakes, co-founder of Four Walls Eight Windows, and Colin Robinson, who spent 17 years at Verso Books. Robinson tells Publishers Weekly the idea for Going Rogue originated with Deirdre Mullane, a Brooklyn-based literary agent.

“She presented the idea a month or so ago,” Robinson tells PW. “I doubt that many publishers felt they could get it out in time to match the Harper pub date, but we knew we could.”

OR’s mission, says PW, is the publication of politically progressive and literary works “with enough money left over to promote them.” Bypassing traditional printing and distribution and selling directly to consumers will, hopes Robinson, allow them to do that. Heavy internet promotion, including a “viral” video for Rouge by documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald, will hit the web in the days leading up to Dec. 17.

If an e-book does well, OR will sell rights to a traditional reprint house. The publisher’s next book, about the Israeli invasion of Gaza and written by Norman Finkelstein, is scheduled for January.

Meanwhile, jokes Robinson, OR’s daytime offices are “in the Eros Cafe and nightime in El Quijote, the bar next to the Chelsea Hotel.”

Who says the left has no sense of humor?


6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 22, 2009 1:42 pm

    Thank God. Can’t wait to read it.

  2. rachel permalink
    October 22, 2009 1:45 pm

    I like The Nation.

    I like the cover of the book. The real one with its blue skies makes me feel a little sick to my stomach anyway. And the dark skies, flash of lightning and American Nightmare is great. Not to mention the pictures.

    I like “We’re like Fox News. Only smart. And not crazy. And we don’t lie.”

    I like this blog.

    I like you Chauncey Mabe.

    I like that a magazine can be humorous at times while still maintaining the air of a serious and informative magazine. Balance. Why does it seem that most things have to be completely straight-faced, or laugh all the time till you fall down and die silly humor?

  3. Candice Simmons permalink
    October 22, 2009 8:13 pm

    Sounds like fun. Unfortunately, I am a dinosaur. If it ain’t in the bookstore, it won’t be on my shelf or under anyone’s Christmas tree. Darn it–and I know so many folks for which it would make the perfect gift.

  4. Candice Simmons permalink
    October 22, 2009 8:13 pm

    P.S. I like you too, Chauncey Mabe. Great column.

  5. October 23, 2009 6:29 am

    Which book is real? Answer both. I miss my Walin Palin. That is what I used to call her as she rose to the top of the charts. Did you know you can see Cuba from the Cayman Islands?

  6. Emma permalink
    October 26, 2009 2:49 pm

    I’m grateful that the left’s humor is in abundance, as evidenced by Stewart, Maher, and the ever-enjoyable Colbert! Great post and timely, at least for me. This morning on Salon, I read an alleged (read: spoof) excerpt from the diaries of Palin’s ghost writer. Very strange because it almost sounded real: http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2009/10/25/secret_diary_sarah_palins_ghostwriter/

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